Connect with the Audience. Touch them! That’s right. Get physical and touch them! From the time we’re born as tiny tots, touch is vital to our survival and healthy development. It’s how we communicate and discover the world around us from our earliest stages.
Studies have shown how we use our body communicates over 90% of our attitudes and beliefs. In a 2008 article in Science NOW “researchers reported that simply holding a warm cup of coffee prompts us to view others as emotionally warmer.” In 2010, The New York Times in one of its articles went even further saying, ‘Touch’ speaks volumes. If you aren’t taking advantage to physically connect with the audience before your presentation, you are missing prime-time relationship building.
Are you one of those people who is still tinkering with equipment, or foraging for last minute information when people are entering the presentation room? Stop it. If you’re serious in wanting to get off to a great start, there is no better way to connect with the audience – before they’ve put their bums into seats – than to acknowledge them when they enter the room.
When you see people coming into the room, you should be there to greet them. This doesn’t mean throwing yourself at them as they come through the door. Instead, position yourself a few steps from the entrance, and the registration table, if there is one. Remember, the larger the event, the more space you need to give people when they come in. They need time to adjust to their surroundings.
Every move you make at this stage should be about making the attendees feel comfortable. The more comfortable they are with you, the more receptive they will be to what you have to say.
There is nothing that brightens and lightens people more than being met by someone with a sincere smile and then, have that sincere smile followed by a warm and welcoming handshake and 100% attention from you: a sign of courtesy and respect. As the presenter, take the first step and introduce yourself.
An introduction can be as simple as saying, “Hello, I’m Dorothea Hendriks, your presenter. Thank you for coming to my workshop.” As you move about and chat with different people, let them know through your conversation that you care and feel honored they came. Not everyone may immediately recognize you or that you are the presenter on the program. Please don’t keep it as a surprise for them. Let them know at the beginning of the conversation.
Of course, if there are lots of people present, you won’t be able to meet and greet them all. However, your actions of making the attempt to connect with as many as possible is what will affect the perception others have of you.
So, the next time you are giving a presentation, why not take the initiative? Reach out and touch as many people as you can through your smile and handshake. Truly to connect with the audience, there is no better way to build a relationship.